Mindfulness and Meditation Resources

I’ve received several requests for mindfulness and meditation resources. I’ll share my favorites in this post.

Background / Introduction

I got into meditation in the early part of 2012, and it’s now a big part of my life. Mindfulness and meditation have changed me in many beautiful ways: I am happier and more calm; I see beauty in ordinary, everyday things; I feel immense joy much more often; and I am not controlled by negative emotions and feelings; I am accepting of whatever is happening, good or bad; I am more compassionate, towards myself and others; I am less judgemental; the list goes on!

I spend most of my meditation and mindfulness practice listening to Dharma talks, following guided meditations, doing unguided meditations, and attending Sangha. I also attended a 5-day insight meditation retreat in early 2015. Each of these categories are covered below.

Dharma Talks

Dharma in Pali (the language the Buddha spoke) means truth. Dharma talks are 60-ish-minute talks about Buddhist teachings. They tend to be very, very practical, and great listens.

A huge repository of Dharma talks are available here: dharmaseed.org. Click on “talks” and either view the most recent talks (there’s an RSS feed, too), or search for things like “forgiveness” or “difficulty” or “love,” whatever you’re interested in hearing. My favorite teachers are Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, and any monastic such as Thanissara and Kittisaro.

My favorite Dharma talks are You Can’t Stop the Waves and Wisdom by Jack Kornfield, and That Bird Got My Wings by Tara Brach.

I listen to Dharma talks on the bus, car rides, or while working out. They have great perspectives and advice.

Books

My all-time favorite mindfulness and meditation book is Fear, by Thich Nhat Hanh. The Issue at Hand by Gil Fronsdal is also great. Same with The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield.

Meditations

Meditation helps me practice and accept the beautiful principals of mindfulness and Buddhism that I learn in Dharma talks.

There are good, free, guided meditations at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. This short meditation is great, too, and anything from Dr. Robert Foster. Jack Kornfield has wonderful guided meditations for sale, too [1], as does Tara Brach. I enjoy meditations on loving kindness, forgiveness, breathing, awareness, joy, and working with difficulties.

I also meditate without a guide, using this meditation timer. I do “insight” meditation, which is all about the present moment — what thoughts, feelings, sounds, tastes, smells, and (sometimes) sights am I experiencing right now? Although when I first started I stuck exclusively to guided meditations.

What I tend to do is meditate 4-6 times per week, for 20-45 minutes each. However, when I first started, I meditated less frequently and for shorter durations.

Sangha

Sangha in Pali (the language the Buddha spoke) means community. A Sangha usually meets once per week. A meeting consists of a 30-45 minute guided or unguided meditation, followed by a 45-60 minute Dharma talk given either by the resident teacher or a guest teacher.

San Francisco has many Sangha groups, as I imagine most cities do (use Google to find one in your area). I attend two regularly: San Francisco Insight and Mission Dharma.

I try to attend at least one a week. I love being “forced” to do a long meditation, and most of the Dharma talks are awesome as well.

Retreats

Retreats are typically held in silence and last anywhere from one day to many months. The retreat I attended was 5 days and was very difficult, but it greatly deepened my practice. I hope to attend one retreat per year.

[1] Jack’s CD collection comes with two CDs, each with three meditations. The three meditations are combined into one long audio track, making it hard to jump around between meditations. To help with this, I’ve copy-pasted the start and end of each meditation below.

Breathing Meditation:
session: 1
start: 5:17
end: 28:15

Loving Kindness (Metta):
session: 1
start: 33:47
end: 55:45

Forgiveness:
session: 1
start: 1:00:37
end: (end of session)

Working with Difficulties:
session: 2
start: 1:19
end: 11:50

Gratitude and Joy:
session: 2
start: 15:00
end: 27:25

Mind like sky
session: 2
start: 29:20
end: (end of session)